After nearly 30 years in business, Moorhead's RetroDisc will close its brick-and-mortar for good

Owners Tim and Elaine Gaslin say a changing market and the 11th Street underpass project prompted them to close their physical location, but they'll still sell CDs and DVDs online.

In this 2020 Forum file photo, Tim and Elaine Gaslin, owners of RetroDisc, talked of loving music, movies and being self-employed. They'll be closing their physical store front March 4.
Forum file photo

MOORHEAD — After three decades, three locations and hundreds of thousands of CDs and DVDs sold, RetroDisc in Moorhead will be closing the doors of its brick-and-mortar for good.

“We wanted to get to 30 years, but we’re eight months short,” said Tim Gaslin, who, alongside wife, Elaine, has run the long-time business from the beginning. “After a while, you just kind of have to move on and do something else.”

The last day at the store, located at 1215 Center Avenue, will be March 4, Tim told The Forum.

Music and movie lovers can expect to pay half-price for the store’s more common CDs and DVDs in their last week of business, although the Gaslins plan to build on their online presence by selling their more valuable finds via Amazon and eBay.

The shop’s closing is linked to factors such as rising overhead costs and the demands of running a physical location six days a week for decades, the couple said.


But the clincher has been a railroad underpass project slated for 11th Street in downtown Moorhead. A number of buildings, including RetroDisc’s current home, will be razed to accommodate the extensive construction.

Elaine Gaslin said the couple had been aware of possible closure for several years, since first learning the underpass project was in the works through their landlord, the owners of Holland Landscaping.

By the end of last summer, they were informing their regulars that the closure was definite, said Darren Benson, a music collector and RetroDisc regular since 1999.

As both of them are in their 50s, the Gaslins say it would be too difficult to find a new location and get reestablished all over again.

The changing face of the music market also impacted their decision. “When we started out, it was very mainstream. Everyone had CDs and DVDs,” Elaine says. “Over time, people moved more toward downloading it or streaming it. It’s become more of a collector’s market. There’s still a good market for it, but it’s a much more selective market.”

The couple, who are former disc jockeys, first got the idea for the business when they came across a second-hand store for physical media in the Twin Cities. They launched Northern Star Music Company, a used CD store/deejay service, in a Moorhead strip mall in 1993. They moved to Fargo as RetroDisc in 2000 and rounded out their inventory with DVDs and blu-rays. In 2004, they moved back across the river to their current location.

The building which houses RetroDisc, 1215 Center Ave., Moorhead, will be razed later this year to make room for the 11th Street railroad underpass project. Forum file photo.

Today, their eclectic inventory of more than 4,000 CDs, 800 DVDs and 600 blu-rays spans many genres and covers motion-picture eras from 1930s’ classics to current blockbusters.

Benson estimates he’s bought over 1,000 CDs from RetroDisc over the years. He praised the business for the excellent condition of its inventory, its reputation as a place where music collectors could connect, and the Gaslins’ friendly, approachable vibe.


“Tim and Elaine are just down-to-earth, salt-of-the-earth people,” he said. “They do a really good job of making you feel welcome, regardless of whether you look like the squarest person or the craziest, most eccentric person.”

Benson also appreciated the fact that only clean, unscratched discs were sold there. The Gaslins used a commercial resurfacing machine to eliminate fingerprints, scratches and gouges from most of the discs that came in.

“We’ve always been fussy about the condition of things before we put them on the shelf,” Elaine said. “That’s kept a lot of long-term, loyal customers.”

“No one else does that,” said Benson, who has shopped at used CD stores around the Upper Midwest. “When you buy it at RetroDisc, it’s in very very good condition or like new. I was getting something nearly new for half the price."

Benson also appreciated what he calls “the customer experience” that came from visiting the store and flipping through racks of CDs in search of that rare title or unexpected gem.

“It was the thrill of the hunt,” he says. “Now you can find it online, but there’s just no thrill in that. There’s no experience in it.”

It also was a place where he could bump into other avid collectors and talk about music. “There’s a bit of camaraderie,” he says. “It was a happy place for me.”

The Gaslins are both big animal lovers, so customers got used to seeing a few "shop cats” and their dog, a mellow mixed-breed named Abby, hanging out at the store.


“A lot of the customers, the first thing they’ll ask is where she is,” Elaine said, laughing.

Benson said he will now need to travel to Sioux Falls or Minneapolis to buy his music. In the meantime, he’s bumped up his visits to RetroDisc to weekly so he can enjoy it while it lasts.

He said news of the brick-and-mortar’s closure spread pretty quickly among the music-collection community. Even Frank Landry, a well-known Winnipeg collector whose YouTube channel, “Channel 33 RPM,” has over 57,000 subscribers, expressed disappointment over the mom-and-pop storefront’s closing when Benson sent him a Facebook message about the news.

“He has definitely stopped and shopped (at RetroDisc) a few times, although Frank is obviously more interested in vinyl,” Benson said. “Overall, though, Frank supports all forms of physical music and hates to see any stores or venues go away.”

Elaine said there are definitely aspects of the business they will miss: “I always joke that, particularly in this building, I basically have a corner office with a window and I can bring my dog to work.”

But most of all, they will miss the people they got to know through RetroDisc. "We’re definitely going to miss the business and miss the customers,” she said. “You know, it’s sad to see this phase of our lives end, but we’re open to new possibilities for the future. We’ll see what life holds for us.”

Tammy has been a storyteller most of her life. Before she learned the alphabet, she told stories by drawing pictures and then dictated the narrative to her ever-patient mother. A graduate of North Dakota State University, she has worked as a Dickinson, N.D., bureau reporter, a Bismarck Tribune feature writer/columnist, a Forum feature reporter, columnist and editor, a writer in NDSU's Publications Services, a marketing/social media specialist, an education associate in public broadcasting and a communications specialist at a nonprofit.
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